1. Business Practices
  2. Graduate Seminar
  3. Color and Material Lab
  4. Materials and Processes
  5. Contextual Design Research
  6. Graduate Studio
  7. Graduate Thesis

Business Practices I
Marketing as a Strategy: “The Big Picture”

This course is designed around a framework that organizes and interrelates marketing topics into succinct modules. Using the textbook, Marketing: The Big Picture by Christie Nordheilm, students will apply the Big Picture framework to a live “mini” case that they choose and write themselves using a carefully designed template. Students will then take a leadership role in managing the discussion of these mini-cases. In this way, the class will maximize their relevance to current business practices and also acquaint the students with the ‘business case’ format. Students will also leverage a simulation tool, the Big Picture Simulation, to test their knowledge of the concepts learned in class.

Within the Big Picture framework we conceive of marketing broadly. Rather than being a subset of corporate strategy, marketing can be elevated to include business strategy itself. What distinguishes marketing can be summarized in a single word: CUSTOMERS. Students will explore the following questions:

  • How can marketing best accomplish the business objective? Will it acquire new customers or make the existing ones more valuable to the firm? (i.e., what is the marketing objective?) Will it attract new customers to its category or steal customers from its competitors (i.e., what is its primary source of volume?) And, while we're at it, what is the product category?
  • Which customers should we be talking to?  Why? (i.e., segmentation and targeting)
  • What should we be saying to them?  What will convince them that our firm, products or services offers them a dynamic advantage over the alternatives? (i.e., positioning)
  • How should we convey this message?  What features of our offer will be compelling?  How shall we price our offer?  Where and how should the offering be distributed?  How and where will we inform our customer of these features? (i.e., the “4 Ps” of product, price, placement, and promotion)? And finally, what additional information do we need to make better decisions about creating customer value in order to meet our business objective? (i.e., market research)

Students will learn that the primary task of marketing is to achieve the company’s overall business objective by creating and communicating value to the customer.  

Business Practices II
Entrepreneurial Essentials

Course Description

The course is designed to offer students a hands-on understanding of Entrepreneurship, experience developing the business case for an important project, and writing and presenting key documents for the business case including an elevator pitch, a 2-3 page executive summary and a 5 to 7 page mini-business plan.  Using a combination of e-learning materials, books, in-class presentations and discussions, students will develop a pragmatic understanding of what is required to develop a concept through to commercialization. Students will develop their own ideas initially and then choose one concept to work with in a small team to develop fully and present as a semester final presentation. Throughout the semester students will work on their own thesis business case and prepare a final 5 to 7 page mini-plan and supporting financials.

Using a 10 module e-learning course, Cantillon, as a supplement, the class will explore each of the major topics for entrepreneurship and new business case development.  The first units will explain the entrepreneurial road and how a business case is developed. The student will use the lectures and case examples to take their business idea and develop a short two minute elevator pitch presentation to articulate the ‘Wow’ in the idea and establish a reason for people to want to know more.  Using additional course units as a guide and accompanying examples, the students will prepare a 2-3 page executive summary for this business case.

With the assistance of guest lecturers and field research, students will prepare a marketing and finance plan for their business case. The exploration will include developing ‘use case’ scenarios and customer personas. Leveraging their market research skills from Business Practices I, the students will develop and size the market segments for this product or service and provide narrative on the path into the target beachhead market. The teams will identify the risks for market entry and the key differentiation for their product and the development of a product family as well as partners and allies to take the product to market. Rounding out the plan, the students will define the product roadmap and the rough budget and finance plan to meet the business goals and test the plan for feasibility.

Graduate Seminar
Foundations of Global Thinking

Seminar I brings together the full cohort of CCS graduate students where they are exposed to key contemporary issues influencing the design professional. Students will attend lectures and workshops with visiting artists, designers, as well as related industry and academic leaders. Graduate Seminar I serves to advance both the investigative and critical writing skills of students. Social context, sustainability, and ethics will be some of the themes addressed, possibly structured within a colloquial format. This Seminar requires extensive reading, research, and short, fast-paced assignments set in the various workshops. Students participate in individual and group presentations in the Seminar.

“Think globally, act locally” is a catchphrase that’s been used since the early 1970s in a wide range of contexts, from management theory to environmental and social activism. But just what does it mean? This seminar provides a foundation for thinking about economic, political, cultural, and aesthetic issues in a global context, especially as they might inform the student’s local action, i.e. individual design practice. The seminar begins by examining the process of exchange and in particular the way humans interact with one another through market transactions. Students then examine various ways of understanding globalization as an economic and cultural system. Subsequent classes focus on the mechanisms of the global market and the increasingly important role design has come to play. Of particular concern are the aesthetic and informational values built into production and consumption practices. This further entails consideration of questions of sustainability and ethics. Provisions are made to accommodate the exploration of individual and group interests as the semester progresses.

Graduate color and Material Lab I
Understanding and Applying Color Theory

This lab will consist of two projects designed to teach color theory, concepts of color systems, digital color studies and practical prototyping skills.  Each class will be structured with intro lectures, followed by hands on projects that integrate the lecture subject matter while simulating a professional work experience.  The student will develop skills in Color and Material Lab I and II that will eventually be applied to the deliverables in each phase of the Design Studios.  From these studies, they will gain a sharpened eye to view color and a vocabulary to articulate the choices they make.  Reading outside of class will be expected to achieve a deeper understanding of the principles and subject matter that will be covered in class.

Students will:

- study the color concepts of Johanne Itten and understand color wheel basics.
- examine color psychology and physics though hands on projects
- draw from the world around them for visual inspiration.
- create basic color systems drawing inspiration from visual themes
- prototype color and materials in the model shop.

Color and Material Lab II
Connection Between Design and Materials

In Color and Material Lab II, time will be spent in the Library and Lab to get a better understanding of content and layout.  We will begin with a comprehensive survey of material samples within the library to learn more about techniques in finishing, decorating and construction. For example, we will pull from our collection of leather samples to illustrate the variety of finishes that can be achieved from tanning to embossing and look at construction techniques such as adhesives, lamination and topstitching. The students will also be introduced to Thomasnet a manufacturing database and Material Connexion, an on-line materials library. By pulling these items from the library, and researching the materials and manufacturers in in depth, the students will experience first-hand, the resources needed to develop innovative color and material solutions. Students will also work in the lab to get hands-on experience with technical lighting and instruments covered in Materials and Processes .

Lab and library work will be balanced with visits from industry CMF Designers and material vendors. They will share their experience with the development process and the role their labs, workrooms and libraries plays in fostering innovation within their company. They will also cover the crucial relationship between designers, engineers, manufacturers and suppliers.

Materials and Processes
A Comprehensive Study through Lecture and Field Experience

This class will be broken into three separate sessions, each covering a variety of materials, processes, and applications. The students will be exposed to class lectures, visiting speakers and manufacturing field trips to gain first hand knowledge of materials and processes. They will also be introduced to resources they can draw upon to locate manufacturers and material suppliers. At the end of each session, students will be tested and assigned advanced material among the covered categories to research and present to the class.

Students will:

  • study a broad array of materials and processes through classroom teaching and visiting lecturers.
  • see processes first hand in the manufacturers’ setting.
  • study technology used in developing colors, materials and finishes.
  • research resources for advanced and sustainable materials.

Contextual Design Research I
Trend Forecasting and Future Scenario Planning

In this course, students will learn how to identify, assess, and forecast both long-term and short-term trends that can be researched through a variety of information sources – consumer demographics and psychographics, developments in technology, manufacturing and the sciences as well as cultural, social, environmental and economic influences. Short-term forecasts will be researched through current events and activities across a wide range of design and art industries – such as fashion, industrial design, and architecture as well as in the areas of science, technology, and business. Students will explore how these trends shape values and behaviors that lie deep in all of us. And, as importantly, how these values and behaviors influence the ways we perceive and adopt new ideas. Uncovering these insights in a rapidly changing world is an increasingly important challenge for all professional designers.

 

Contextual Design Research II
Business, Customer and User Research Methods

This course introduces the methods, tools, and techniques of research that are relevant to designing with people in mind for product, experience, space, or service. The methods and tools fall in the categories of “what people say,” “what people do,” and “what people need.” Business, Customer and User Research Methods will be primarily lecture-based, but will also include a variety of hands-on learning activities that are applicable at all points along the design process. Students will practice developing and conducting surveys, interviews, field observational research, and focus groups to identify unmet needs that are both articulated and unarticulated. 

Graduate Studio I
Exploring Materials for Sustainable Living

Students will work in groups to research the latest advances in sustainable materials and processes. They will create a new brand and product line using the material(s) they find. The project will have an initial research phase that looks at this quickly emerging market and it’s segments, trend influences and advanced materials for sustainable living. Students will build a case for using their chosen technology and explain its benefit in reducing environmental impact. The group will be asked to create the product line, logo and a palette of colors and support their final decisions with trend data and findings through a written document and presentation boards.     

Industries to explore:  housewares, baby and toddler, fashion/footwear, contract furniture, retail interiors, outdoor products.

Students will:

  • immerse themselves though on-site visits to refuse companies, recyclers and manufacturers.  
  • research and identify the types of consumers that are emotionally invested in reducing their environmental or ecological footprint on the world.
  • use blogs, subscription services (Style Sight, Peclairs), and search engines to access current trends among these users.
  • use Material Libraries (CCS, Material Connexion), Supplier Search Tools (ThomasNet) and industry blogs to identify new materials, processes and suppliers.
  • synthesize information to develop a concise strategy for a new product line.
  • communicate product, color and material strategy through written documents, verbal presentation, trend boards, renderings, and palettes.

Graduate Studio II
Researching Materials in the Field:  Devices for First Responders

Every day, first responders around the world depend on rugged hand held and wearable radios to communicate in rescue situations.  These radios have been developed and manufactured to military specification so that they can withstand extreme conditions such as fire, hurricanes and warzones.  It is up to the C + M Designer to understand these users, their environment and specific needs to develop material strategy that addresses the rugged, unforgiving aspect of the First Responders workplace.  In Color and Material Studio 4 the students will spend a day with responders to document the environment and the challenges they face in the field.  They will then research advanced materials that could be integrated to make the product more rugged and user friendly. 

Possible sectors: Fire, rescue, military, Red Cross

Collaboration opportunity: Depending on the complexity of the project, graduate students from Graduate Studio II and IV will participate on the project.

 

Graduate Studio III
Power of Brand Identity in Product Evolution

Students will explore the role of Color and Materials in defining a brand’s identity as it evolves over time. They will look at popular brands such as Nike, Sony and Apple and discuss how these companies have strategically used design, color and materials to elevate their brand in the market place, attract and maintain loyal customers and create buzz around new products and technology. The class will then move on to a brand-specific project. Students will be asked to research a particular company’s brand history, research its current product lines, the competitive landscape and its consumer segmentation. Students will then narrow their focus to a specific product line and evolve the line to fit a future scenario.

The ideation phase will consist of trend research pertinent to the brand.  For example, if the brand has a fashion element, students will access trend forecast services to research emerging colors, materials and finishes.  If the brand and its product line is technology-centric, researching advanced materials may be more relevant to the project. The final phase will involve future brand strategy based on research findings, trend boards and color and material direction. 

 

Graduate Studio IV
Transportation Interiors and Consumer Persona

This class will focus on transportation interiors with an emphasis on consumer persona research. The students will research a brand, it’s industry (vehicular, marine and aviation industries) and competition but will spend the bulk of the research time spent with actual customers. They will be asked to create consumer personas based on their research and design a color and materials strategy that would resonate with those customers.  Students must show innovative use of materials. The palette will be more complex, considering a broad spectrum of materials such as textiles, metals, plastics, elastomers, and glass. 

Research findings and color and material strategy will be structured to simulate a transportation (automobiles, private boats/yachts, private planes) product development team experience in the initial stages of design. The goal of this approach is to give the designer time to integrate color and material ideas into their solutions. It also gives the designer time to work with engineers and vendors to develop and fine-tune new materials and processes.

 

Graduate Thesis I

This course is designed to help students articulate and execute a body of work that is the culmination of his/her graduate study experience. Students should be able to synthesize external factors – such as technological, global, environmental issues and trends, including social change – translate them into a form that is meaningful in a business setting, and create relevant design solutions. “Relevant” in this context requires that students’ design solutions resonate with an identified market segment, from all design and functional standpoints.

Graduate Thesis I is a self-driven, studio course where each student will follow a design development path that commences with a rigorous research phase. A business case and/or a creative brief will grow out of the research findings and will serve as the plan of work for the completion of the Thesis. Students will be expected to work through the subsequent phases, each phase resulting in a high-quality set of deliverables, culminating in a final presentation that will be either digitally created or hand-built as appropriate.

Graduate Thesis II

This course is designed to help students articulate and execute a body of work that is the culmination of his/her graduate study experience. Students should be able to synthesize external factors – such as technological, global, environmental issues and trends, including social change – translate them into a form that is meaningful in a business setting, and create relevant design solutions. “Relevant” in this context requires that students’ design solutions resonate with an identified market segment, from all design and functional standpoints.

Graduate Thesis II is a self-driven, studio course where each student will follow a design development path that commences with a rigorous research phase. A business case and/or a creative brief will grow out of the research findings and will serve as the plan of work for the completion of the Thesis. Students will be expected to work through the subsequent phases, each phase resulting in a high-quality set of deliverables, culminating in a final presentation that will be either digitally created or hand-built as appropriate.

The Thesis deliverables will consist of:

  1. A written and bound document that articulates the business context and the supportive research relating to a specific topic and/or studio project
  2. A studio-based, design artifact (singular or multiple) in a 2D, 3D and/or digital form
  3. A final oral and visual thesis presentation to the Graduate Thesis Review Committee
  4. A Thesis exhibit at the Graduate Thesis Exhibition

 

 

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